When it rains…it’s just fine

There’s nothing wrong with the rain.
I think that the problem is really all this sun! And it hasn’t rained in days.
Yup, it’s been that kind of week round here.

I’m having a miserable, rotten cold, PMS and migraine, plus, today, a pipe burst outside, just under the patio.
Thank you Universe! That’s a lot of Zen you’re asking for. :?
I think you can completely understand the contents of my shopping cart:

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OK, to tell the truth, one of those chocolate bars did go back onto the shelf, and there were also bananas (not pictured).

I think we both feel a bit…meh…

Chloe’s university is on reading break this week and she’s taking full advantage of that.

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I’ve cleaned up and organised the library/family room and it’s been lovely hanging out there with my books and my biggest mug of hot Earl Gray tea.

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This is also the only room in the house with a TV. (We’re not big on TV and I fully subscribe to the notion that one TV in a house is enough, (if not too much), for any family). Along with the one TV policy is also the basic cable only policy. Which costs $5 more than the basic internet feed and means that we basically get about 20 channels and only about three are worth watching for the occasional news cast, although it’s usually so sensationalised that it winds me right up.

But it’s been lovely having those three channels to watch some of the Olympics. And that’s exactly what C and I did with our tea and our blankies. We watched the opening ceremonies. Did anyone watch them? I must admit that the part where communism was depicted was tremendously difficult for me to watch, having escaped from Prague and from communism. But I reminded myself that it’s all history and individual people who also suffered, who also would have chosen a different way if they could have. And here was my beautiful child beside me watching, also feeling angry about the lack of human respect and gay rights and captured whales, and she was mustering the same amount of Zen I was to rise above it and enjoy the spectacle.

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I only managed one more page in my personal journal. The words which spoke to me formed these two sentences:

“Approach the known fortress. The list of formidable attractions are jewels for the shop and community.”

I didn’t know why I was moved to draw my own personal Ganesha on that page because the words were telling me that I should believe in myself, that the gifts I have, that I can bring to you all, are like jewels.

And then the pipe burst.

And then I approached the fortress that is plumbing and hidden shut off valves behind little painted over panels, and main water valves in the house and overbearing tiredness and sniffy nose and crampy tummy and headache…and still have to go make supper… then I knew. Ganesha, remover of obstacles. Fortresses beyond the Etsy shop, beyond the business of my art. Approaching the fortress of every day life. I’m so very grateful that I’ve created my own personal Ganesha to remove the obstacles in my path.

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I’m on the mend now, my good friend Leo has been by and told me the house won’t fall down and that he’ll replace the pipe just as soon as the weather warms, supper is made and I’m about to catch up on today’s Olympic highlights on one of the three channels and drink my tea. Go team Canada/England/Czech Republic! (Yeah I know, I have a split personality nationality) :D

In the mean time, should you need your own personal Ganesha, then just let me know and I’ll be very happy to make you one and send him out to you.

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Really random Friday

It’s funny but today I don’t seem to have much to say.

So…I’m glad it’s sunny this morning.
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Woke up at 3am from a nightmare. Nightmare carried on each time I closed my eyes and so I just got fed up and got out of bed. A family issue which is causing me a lot of pain and reflection keeps being played out over and over in my no-limits imagination and sometimes takes hold and 3am and then that’s it. No amount of meditation, self talk, or any other activity can lessen the pain and then I just spend the next day or two seeing things in black and white, and so I’m trying to concentrate on the good things.

So…I’m happy that the morning went from this:

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To this:
Also happy that I live in a city where the snow knows its place…on top of the mountains.

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Yesterday I had very low energy and so spent most of the day playing with some mixed media in the studio and came up with these art cards.

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So now I have a stack of mixed media art cards around…these are just the ones I had on hand, never mind the ones in the drawers.

Don’t know what to do with them. A new friend on FB asked me if I sell them…more to the point…where I sell them, and honestly I don’t know what to do. I have absolutely no idea if they are sell-worthy, although I suspect not, and sort of prefer the thought of actually sending them out to people who want them, or who would like to trade art cards or something…maybe sending one out with a purchase from an Etsy shop, (which by the way I still haven’t started…need a good kick in the…)

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I asked Robert if he liked the little thoughts i constructed on them and he said the sweetest thing. He said, “Your words are like a trampoline for my imagination.” Couldn’t you just melt? I know!

The sayings are a little bit of found poetry from the pages of a weird little book called “The Brief History of the Wellington Boot.” I’m always amazed at the good words still left in that much used book.

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Aaand…

… Oh, bought a pretty little beaded purse for no reason at all except that it’s pretty.

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Sharing with Nancy and all my random Friday friends.

Last randomness from E

So, it’s almost that time again, I have to switch countries.

Yesterday Robbie and I took down the Christmas tree and all the deckies. We kept it up extra long because neither one of us really wanted Christmas to end, (even though we did tell ourselves that our visiting friends Chris and Diane needed to see the tree), actually, deep down we both know that our time in E is coming to a close and it’ll be 2-3 months before we are together again and neither one of us wants that, but then neither one of us wanted the inevitability of R having to take down the tree and deckies by himself…too sad.

So the only thing Christmas left at the cottage is this basket of nuts and one box of R’s After Eights. (we also finished the Christmas cake last night)

But then, it’s time to focus on spring and new projects.
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Took Theo to the vet this week because he was acting like perhaps something was stuck in his teeth, or his mouth. The vet found a loose and infected tooth…poor old buddy…and she hoiked it out :( and sent us away with anti-inflammatory drops for him, which will also help his arthritis in the cold weather.

We also found out that he’s lost a bit of weight, which we don’t like, so we’ve been spoiling him rotten with assorted bowls of yumminess. We thought his head might explode at the choices, but he just dives right in!

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This winter R and I completed a few projects, like insulating a part of the attic space previously uninsulated, and clearing out and reorganising the shed…you know…those mundane type things no one really wants to tackle. So we’re really happy it’s done!

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I did some research and found out that there is no easy way I can take my orchid to Vancouver…barring three separate permits and inspections to protect Canada from imported British pests and diseases…Boo! That means I’ve just lumbered Robbie with a fifth house plant to take care of while I’m not here, and while I take houseplants as a replaceable commodity, he takes it all very seriously and wants them to survive and be happy until I get back. And he’s not a plants person at all! Poor R.

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But for now, we still have a couple of days and open fires and healthy Theo and each other. Counting our blessings. :)

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Sharing with Nancy and the random crew. :)

Whirlwind days

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I’m sure we’re all feeling much of the same sameness, aren’t we? ‘Tis the time for Christmas magic, visiting good friends, running around like crazy trying to get everything done and fitting in the unexpected.

Us? We’re baking a giant Christmas cake this evening and will continue baking it to about 10pm. (I know, what are we like?)

Yesterday was a glorious day. The sun was mostly shining and we were invited to friends for lunch and supper.
We left a little past 11am and returned a little past 11pm. (Theo was not impressed with us)

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We visited Catherine, bringing prezzies and hugs. We played with the beautiful Jet in the sunroom and coaxed Sable down from the linen closet. We chatted and hugged and had a lovely time, and said our goodbyes and drove to Geoff and Dawnie’s to see Geoff’s wonderful car collection, Dawnie’s stunning horse Murphy and have the loveliest supper with them. Dawnie had just come back from riding Murphy at Windsor Castle in the Windsor Great Park by special permission. That must have been something special; riding your horse in the Queen’s back yard.

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Today we’ve had several power cuts. The weather had been Wagnerian to say the least, with heavy rain and fierce trees-down winds. Robert’s childhood friends lost their mother and her funeral was today. So we drove the 35 miles to a beautiful little village with a beautiful little stone church which shook and rattled in the wind and supported our friends and their family in their grief. After the service we followed the pallbearers up the hill and into the grave yard watched them lay their mother to rest.

The vicar’s words resonated with me, “Farewell, dear Voyageur – ’twill not be long.
Your work is done – now may peace rest with thee.”

Linking with Mary at the Little Red House and wishing everyone a tranquil last couple of days before a magical Christmas. :D

Special, true moments

I was thinking that the last year of my father’s life we drove to his cabin on as many weekends as we could. He loved it there.
Up there on East Twin Lake, six hours out of the city, up there with the loons, the morning moose, the northern lights and the millions of stars making up the milky way, up there he was at peace.

One time we left Vancouver quite late and got there after dark. I remember driving along the dirt road and the headlights illuminating the bone-white birch trees on either side and I remember seeing a cameo reflection of those birch trees in a puddle in the pitted path. It may have been the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, and, combined with the harsh winter settling in, and not knowing if my father would be able to visit again, I captured that image in my memory.

This painting was born from that memory. I like it here, in the hallway outside my bedroom. I haven’t hung it on the wall because I like the way the lamp light puddles the image. I’m not sure I’ll ever hang it up.

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Do you have a visual memory of a special, extraordinary moment? I don’t really know why, but seeds from the garden always remind me of my grandfather.

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I suppose that, growing up in Europe where things are treasured and shared more than they are here in the North American built-in obsolescence consumerism culture, I remember my grandfather folding little paper envelopes to store his garden seeds in.

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I remember doing that with him while he wrote the botanical names of the plants on the outside of the paper. That’s something I’m always compelled to do…to collect and store the seeds form the garden flowers, (and paint puddle paintings…lol) But what does one do with millions of white Japanese anemone seedlings, or a grove of maples?

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Mind you, as I was carrying the trumpet vine seed heads thru the house, seven seeds fell to the floor and I scooped them up in my hand. I put them on the mantle. I think they’ll stay there for a while.

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Snow puddle painting: Oil on canvas
Fox: Oil on the cut-off end of last year’s Christmas tree

It is what it is

The other day I had a minute to sit in Sbux and read the local paper.

Gotta love the headline:

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So among the very useful tips to beat the winter blahs are: eat at a Mexican restaurant to trick your mind, wear brighter colours and get plenty of sleep.

If only I could!!! Ok, I can do a coloured scarf and I can eat Mexican and love it, but the sleep…

Let me tell you why I can’t sleep around here. It’s because there are gun shots going off in my house all night and it’s been happening for a month now. The gun shots are the noises that the floor makes as the planks crack down the seams and separate.

I know. I KNOW!!! Can you believe the nightmare this floor has become? The trouble is that not only are the planks separating along the seams but occasionally the seam won’t give way and the actual plank tears, as in this next pic. Some gaps are now about 2mm, while others are slimmer, but the whole edge is rough and catches on socks, stockings and cat hair. There is no way to sweep up the floor now and I’m worried that dirt and dust will start to accumulate within the floor because, after all, we live here!

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So these days I’m trying to function on about 4-5 hours of sleep, but still, there’s lovely morning sun in my bedroom…

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And wonderful people watching around town.

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Get a load of those feet!!!

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Fantastic parks with snow capped mountains and forests to hike around in.

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And, if all else fails, there’s always cookies.

Here is a brilliant article someone posted to my FB today. Got to get rid of the stress and start meditating again.

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Try again, fail again, fail better

November is kicking my butt!!!

It’s so far been a hard month of personal upsets and low productivity.

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The weather is typical West Coast cold dampness which feels twice as cold as it says on the thermostat. Not like the dry cold of prairies or of mountains, but the right to the bone cold of the ocean which you can’t seem to insulate your body from.

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Today we were at Whole Foods for a nice morning break and quietly reading the paper, having tea and we heard our first Christmas carol, Jingle Bell Rock. So, just for the record, I’m declaring winter, because I hate to think of Christmas time and fairy lights and decorations belonging to the fall. (I don’t think I would like to be an Australian and have Christmas in the summer. But then again, If I was Australian I guess I wouldn’t know any different and so would be happy with that.

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This morning I read my horoscope. Do you do that? I go for weeks without thinking about horoscopes or any of that woey-woey stuff, and then my life sucks and I look for some sort of assurance that everything will work out. What’s all that about, and how ridiculous is that? No wonder they’re called soothsayers.

Today I took these photos. That’s C reading a disturbing article in today’s newspaper about the sexting; she has to do a research paper about it, which has to culminate in a modification to a curriculum to combat that problem in high schools. Wow, it’s depressing to know this exists and to know the vast problem it has become. Depressing to read about the children who have harmed themselves over this, even committed suicide, and I wish somehow there was a way to make kids realise that there is so much more to life than high school.

So it was lovely to see these children running on the beach and playing their innocent, little hearts out. And here’s something: some new stores are opening. The stores geared for ladies have sexy full window “coming soon” ads, while the men’s wear has a hand written sign on the door advertising what it will eventually be. Interesting, isn’t it? The hard “sexy, sexy woman will be you as soon as you drop in” sell vs the “oh, well, men have to shop at some point anyway, and, since they wont probably come in on an impulse brought on by the sexy, sexy, why spend the money?” sell. Boy you get jaded as soon as you start working your way thru that CMNS degree. Sometimes I wonder if life wasn’t simpler before I did it and now C is in her fourth year of the same degree. Which I encouraged her to take! What have I done?!?

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So mostly I walk thru the new stores ignoring the merchandise and admiring the not-for-sale decorations and fixtures. Now I want to get a bunch of old paintings and liberate them from their supports and wallpaper a wall with them and find some shutters to put on a desk to function as a file cabinet (of sorts). How cool is that? (Wait, I have a bunch of old paintings waiting to be turned into hand bags…hmmm)

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I’m very much into a “throw everything I own away and start again” mood. Maybe just put everything that’s out away and redecorate mood, because, actually, looking around, I kinda like my stuff. You know what I possibly need to do is to feng shui the hell out of the house. Sort things out, put them away, get rid of some clutter and feng shui the rest. I think possibly the problem is that I haven’t used feng shui principals here in this house, (now I’ve been here for 2.5 yrs) and, even if it’s woey-woey stuff, it makes me feel loads better.

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On the positive side, because Robert is going to be really annoyed with me if I keep going on in this “gloomy and purposeless left leg of Uncle Vanya’s trousers” path, I’ve started a new map about three days ago and it’s all I want to do right now, just paint the map. It will be a couple of nuthatches and bluebells. The one bird is flying to a branch and the second is already there. I love the way these little bird descend head first. And bluebells, because I felt like bluebells, and that can’t be bad.

Nuthatches and bluebells

P.S. C is putting in a blue hair wrap in her hair with the embroidery flosses and now I want to embroider something with those yummy, rich colours.

P.P.S. There’s roast chicken for Sunday supper.

P.P.P.S. The Sunday whirl is turning out be to really dark and so I might stop writing it before it drags me down below ground and away form the bluebells. Alternately, it might be good just to get it out, over with and sleep it off.

Linking with Mary for Mosaic  Mondays  and with Ramona for Create with Joy

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Friday I broke my heart. It’s a very private matter and nothing I want to talk about and, anyway, I’m not in the right frame of mind to spill everything in here and then try to pick up the pieces and I’m afraid that everything I would say about the matter wouldn’t help and would never bring about any kind of resolution.

But the end result of this Friday night in floods of tears is that I woke up Saturday morning with barely 5 hours of sleep and the Dixie Chicks concert in the evening after a full day of work and running around. Still, we must be brave and gather our best Dunkirk Spirit and carry on.

So, after supper, I put on my cowboy boots and some red lipstick and Chloe and I headed downtown, via seabus and sky train, to the concert. We walked into Roger’s arena and felt the Girl Power!

There were grandmas with their tween granddaughters, mothers and daughters of all ages, girlfriends, husbands and wives, couples and friends of every description. We loved it.

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(photos gently borrowed and collaged from photos in this morning’s news paper)

The Dixie Chicks came on stage to absolute thunder. I haven’t seen our arena so packed and, with over 18K seats, I think maybe three seats were empty, and that was probably because the people who bought those tickets were abducted by aliens. It was that full.

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C and I loved being there to pieces and, especially loved the power of the folks around us. We sang along to every song that we knew, and although it’s damn near impossible to drown out Natalie Maines’ beautiful, powerful voice, the audience did give it a good try!

Here are a couple of photos of C in the stage light. (no special effects on my part) :)
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But the thing that made the evening special is that I managed to calm myself down and get to a place of Zen tranquility, despite a broken heart. And do you know how? It was all to do with mine and Robert’s phone calls Friday night and Saturday morning. He’s so patient with me. He’s so loving and kind and understanding and brings me such peace and clarity. I’m such a lucky girl to have him beside me in my life.

I was waiting for this song to be played. I especially love it because it came straight into my head just after our conversation.

Thank you Robbie; love you.

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My ears are still ringing and I can hear the music in my head!

Wrestling in the studio

There’s chaos in the studio.
I’ve started work again on a painting which I neglected for about a year now. (I know, what am I like?)

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It’s just that sometimes it’s so difficult to paint and I have to keep reminding myself to keep going. And sometimes I get into the “small” habit, where I work on very small art, and when it comes to working on a large piece, (this one is 2′ x 3′), and it boggles the mind.

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I’ve got all this beautiful inspiration laying on the floor right where I can see it, but the problem is that all these artists, in my critical eye, are millions of times better than I am and therefore I sort of lose hope sometimes.

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I have to keep reminding myself, (probably every creative person does), we all have to keep reminding ourselves, that our work is worthwhile and valuable. That we have a style, that our work is important.

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And it always helps to have a buddy in the studio with you showing you support.

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But sometimes the most important thing to do is to know when to walk away. To flip the painting upside down, do something else and come back with some fresh energy.

Because we all need to take a break form creative work and blow the cobwebs out of our over-thinking mind.

So now I can see the sun is out after hours and hours of rain and the oil is very wet and there’s a real danger that I’ll start blending this into mud, and so I think I’ll walk down to the ocean and come back with a fresh perspective.

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The country mouse heads for the city

I started writing this post and Robert leaned over to read what I was writing.

“What’s the city?”, he asked. I looked at him under my brows. “Vancouver?”, he said, “That’s not a city that’s like Henley on Thames! :)

“To you it’s an outpost!”, I said, we laughed.

Yesterday, our good friends Chris and Diane rode over for lunch. They came on Chris’s epic custom made chopper. We heard them arriving from way down the lane.

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I made a “clear the fridge for Robbie” lunch. :) There were a couple carrots, a zucchini and some broccoli left. These, non-Robbie veggies, plus the end of the brie and some cheddar, made a lovely frittata, and half of a package of ricotta cheese, and half of a package of rolled puff pastry made a quick and delicious nectarine tart for dessert.

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We had a lovely lunch and catch-up and then R and C went off to talk cars and bikes while Diane and I drove to Oxford so I could do some last minute shopping.

This morning I’m packed, ready for the flight and thinking about last night as R and I talked about our summer and future plans.

I’m going to miss my Oxfordshire for a few months, but am looking forward to my home in Vancouver, my children, who I miss desperately, R coming over soon, my garden, new floors, city life.

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(I’m not going to miss raking up the mountains and mountains of leaves from our huge maples.)

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But the things I’ll miss the most are the everyday things.

I know I usually show you all sorts of beautiful atmospheric photos but my everyday photos, like this one, are super filled with meaning and emotion.

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I’ll miss both my boys for a while.

R and I talk every day for at least an hour, sometimes two or three. Everyone who knows us knows never to phone us at Vancouver 9am or British 5pm, because that time is always reserved for our daily phone call. When we’re apart and can’t talk, I always send R a daily post card until I get back to the phone.

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So I’m off this morning back to Vancouver and R is staying here for a while, but in the meantime I have our lovely summer photos and I’m savouring every one.

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